Raclette is not only the name of one of my favorite cheeses, but it is also a way to eat. I should say it could be a way to live, because if I could get away with it, I’d eat this way every day!
My family and I took an extended trip through Eastern France in 2002, and thankfully, we visited Chamonix. It’s a magical and picturesque town, situated at the base of the Alps. One evening we were wandering through town to pick out our dinner spot. And then I smelled it – that undeniable smell of warm, stinky cheese. I followed my nose to a restaurant with outside seating – all woodsy and cozy in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Then I noticed these contraptions on diners’ tables. This is when and where I discovered Raclette. The contraptions were similar to this one, screwed into the wooden tables.
Raclette is a cows’ milk cheese that comes from the Rhones-Alpes region of France which has an inherent viscosity. If you have noticed, hot cheeses can be thin and runny, or barely move at all – like rubber. Melted raclette is perfectly pourable, and extremely delicious.
The verb “racler” in French means “to scrape.” So this is what you do when you raclette (verb): the raclette (noun) melts from a heat source, then you scrape the melted cheese onto your bread or potatoes. Originally, raclette was melted by an actual fire.
After returning home, you can bet I researched raclette, and lo and behold! There were electric raclette makers!!! Not as provincial as sitting around a fire waiting for your blob of melted cheese, but that’s ok. I’m talking about having the most fun you can imagine cooking yourself a dinner that revolves around cheese!!!
This electric raclette maker from Williams Sonoma, is very similar to the three I now own. They are really fun, because you can melt your cheese in the little dishes below, and grill meats and breads on the upper granite slab. Yes, I now own three raclette makers – I mean, the more people, the merrier!
I recently discovered the website Raclette Corner, and you can order not only raclette, but the raclette grills and melters. Sonja, the owner, is Swiss/German, and after moving to South Dakota, she missed raclette so much she started this business! I talked to her recently when she set me up with an expedited shipment of raclette when my original order fell though. What’s especially interesting on her site is the page that tells the history of raclette.
This is a photo of the Swiss raclette I received from Sonja. It’s called a half square, which I’d never heard of before. It was much easier to cut up than round wheel!
So here’s what to do if you want to have a Raclette night, my way. However, keep in mind that there is no “one” way to raclette.
Raclette Menu for 4
4 filet mignons
2-4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Raclette, about 2 pounds
1 loaf of bread
Salad toppings such as tomato, mushrooms, and hearts of palm, sliced beets
Vinaigrette of choice
2 large cooked potatoes, sliced into quarters, lengthwise
Begin by slicing the filets about 1/4″ thick and place in a ziploc bag. Whisk together about 1/2 cup of olive oil with your preferred amount of garlic and salt. Add this mixture to the filet slices and let marinate overnight. Before racletting, bring the filets to room temperature.
To set your table to raclette, each person should have a small plate and a small bowl. The electric grill comes with the dishes for the cheese, plus little scrapers. Each person should have at least two cheese dishes, and one scraper.
I also recommend small wooden tongs to pick up the cheese, as well as for other goodies you’re going to have on the table.
Cut up the Raclette (cheese) into about 2″ squares, about 3/8″ thick. Place on a plate and set on the table. It’s hard to estimate how much people will eat, but in my experience, it’s more than you’re think!
Slice the bread into 1/4″ slices; place in a bowl or basket and set on the table. I like to have some olive oil in a squeeze bottle to add to the top of the grill for toasting the bread. Even better if it’s garlic oil!
Divide the salad greens into four bowls. Divide the salad toppings between the salads. Put these bowls next to the plates already on the table.
Divide the quartered potatoes among the plates and have the vinaigrette on the table.
Place the cornichons and onions in a bowl on the table.
The electric raclette maker goes in the middle of the table. One raclette maker will easily work for four people at a square table.
Turn on the raclette. Give it a good 15 minutes to heat up properly.
Place a piece of cheese in a dish to start the melting process. Place a piece or two of the marinated beef on the top to grill.
Add some vinaigrette to your salad, and help yourself to the cornichons and pickled onions. As the bread grills, place it on the plate. Using the scraper, scrape the cheese out of the dish and onto the bread.
Add the filets to your salad, or place on top of the cheese.
And make sure to put cheese on the potatoes!
I first had raclette many many years ago in Switzerland. Later when my kids were young we had a machine and it was a favourite family meal, with all the trimmings, and such fun. Love how you’ve put yours together and looks great. Happy new year to you!
It’s such a fun way to enjoy a great meal and your friends and family. I’ve had up to 12 people and it’s so enjoyable. And that cheese is so good! Happy New Year Kay!!!
Funnily enough, our family decided to do a raclette dinner just before Christmas, when we got together again …. we went cheap-and-cheerful compared with yours Mimi, in that we enjoyed wurstel sausage instead of filet mignon, ha ha … but it is such a convivial way to enjoy a meal. Dear Mimi and dear Travel-Groumet – I am taking advantage of writing on this comment because I just could not find where to leave my comment? I looked and looked. Oh dear, I am pretty useless at this techie stuff. Anyway: this is to wish you both a very happy and profitable new year – and to thank you for your wonderful posts!
Thank you so much! I love sausage of any kind – it’s my husband who prefers steak on the grill! So good you could get together and raclette! Happy New Year!
We love raclette. Our Swiss neighbors often have auus over in the winter (well, not this year) to enjoy a raclette meal at their table. It is so much fun! Would love to experience it in Chamonix, as you did.
I would bet all of those alpine villages are spectacular, whether in France, Italy, or Switzerland… I’ve only been to a few, and none during the winter months. I’ve always wished we could spend a Christmas in one of those towns, just for that Christmas ambiance. We don’t ski, so it would be all about Christmas markets, hot toddies, raclette, fireplaces, and watching the snow fall. Maybe one day!
That really would be fun. I’m with you on the markets, toddies, raclette et al… and some hot chocolate!
It’s New Year classic here in Germany. My…all the melted cheese, I am just drooling terribly, Mini.
I still have half of a wheel in my fridge!!!
Delicious!! Happy New Year :)
Definitely delicious! Happy new year to you and yours!
This is a delicious reminder of what to look forward to when it’ll be safe to run around Europe again. How I miss the cheese in France!
Oh my yes. Fortunately I can get some from fromages.com, but it’s not the same as being there!
It sounds delicious, Mimi. Happy New Year. Hugs on the wing!
Thank you Teagan!!!
What a wonderful food!!!!!
Yes! Yes, it is.
Years ago, I visited with friends in England who had lived in Switzerland. They surprised me with a Raclette dinner one evening. Wonderful! All I remember is scraping the softened cheese from the lump of Raclette from under the grille onto my Potatoes. I’m sure there were other bits on the table but I only remember the soft cheese on the Potatoes and the lovely evening I shared with my friends.
Now I live in New Zealand and although I have seen Raclette cheese for sale I haven’t seen a grille. I think this is my own special memory.
Thanks Mimi for helping me recall this fun evening. :))
You are so welcome. The whole raclette dining experience is truly magical!
The Netherlands have these popular eating devices “Gourmetten” but in different shapes, sizes, etc. We loved them so much we brought back a few small sets for 2 people but they use fuel versus the larger electric ones. Gene and I had a lot of fun cooking “little meals” and sometimes inviting another couple over. I still have one and just brought it up from the basement – probably vintage as it is old! A really fun way to eat and entertain! Thanks for the memories… You’ve done a beautiful job – I have checked out Sonja’s shop and probably will do some shopping…
Thank you! I’ll have to look up that word and see what those gadgets are! Any kind of interactive cooking is so much fun, but when you get the benefit of melty cheese, it’s heavenly!
This is similar to what I have https://www.yummydutch.com/products/yd/pans-and-baking-tins/2526-gourmet-set-2-persons.html
You cook everything in those little skillets – very simple!
The article is hysterical!
This is so informative, Mimi. I didn’t know of this small device, but there’s definitely one in my future. I have a Pinterest board titled “Melty Cheese,” so that should tell you of how much pleasure I derived just in reading this post! :-)
Hahahahahaha! That is too funny. Melty cheese! I can so relate! And it’s not just melty, but so flavorful. I prefer the Swiss over the French raclette. I find it slightly more stinky and lovable!
Oh what a great dinner you have here. It brings back memories. One of the restaurants I’ve worked at in Vermont years ago, was owned by a Swiss family, and so Raclette was always on the menu, simply served with cooked potatoes or Rosti and cornichons. I used to have it for lunch every day! :)
Oh goodness, you didn’t work at the Von Trapp Lodge, did you?!! Oh, they’re Austrian. Well how lucky you were to enjoy raclette on a daily basis. My idea of heaven!
lol They were very far from a cheerful singing group..
As for the cheese, after having it on a daily basis for a few months, I ended up abandoning it for many years… Too much of a good thing, I guess! :)
We have a raclette device too. Love sharing this fun interactive meal with family and friends and hope to do more of it in 2021. Glad you added the pickles and little garnishes as these are so nice with cheese and potatoes. Wishing you a super 2021! Stay well and take care
The cornichons are pretty standard, but I’ve to have raclette at someone else’s house, so I don’t know what other people do. We have been to a restaurant in the mountains that made raclette only. So much fun. Happy New Year!
My parents were visiting and we discussed raclette just a few nights ago. Your feast looks amazing. Anything with cheese works for me.
Well that just about sums it up! Anything with cheese!
Mimi, this is a virtual meal I’ill be enjoying over and over again. Your photos and descriptions made me feel like I was experiencing that melty feast with your lucky guests. Superb! Thank you and Happy New Year!
Thank you Kim. always good to hear from you. Happy New Year!
Wow, you’ve really explored this! I’d love to say that I’d like to try it, but I’d much rather come over to your house for dinner!
You’re totally welcome to… after the pandemic!!! Happy New Year Jeff!
Yum! I ask you, is there anything more satisfying than melted cheese? Nothing I can think of… You were lucky to have had the chance to experience raclette on its home turf!
There’s nothing much better to me than melty cheese! And it’s such good cheese. Happy New Year Frank!
We are “cheesy family” ad would enjoy melted raclette very much ! Must do my best to gather everything necessary to enjoy once we all could meet again …. I wish you have healthy and happy 2021. !
Thank you! I wish the same for you and yours. It has to be a better year overall!
Happy New Year! I jus learned about this dish from my brother who lives in Berlin. He and his girlfriend made them for Christmas. Your story and pictures are great!
Thank you! It’s a wonderful way to eat!
You know what’s funny? I was actually looking at raclette makers on Amazon right before the holidays. I love the idea of being able to do this at home. It kinda reminds me of fondue in that the dinner is a full experience. Thanks for the inspiration, Mimi!
Dinner is a full experience, but how much stuff can you dip in fondue? Bread, of course, maybe sausage, but after that it’s slim Pickens. Raclette is much better, in my opinion. I have seen individual fondue pots, which is what I’d do the next time I make fondue. Cause you always lose whatever you’ve stabbed in the big fondue pot, and then it just gets messy! Both are definitely a fun way to eat. Buy the raclette grill!
Mimi, you brought back memories from years ago when my husband and I traveled to Europe with my sweet MIL. We stayed in a small hotel in the Alps for an evening where we all shared raclette in the hotel’s restaurant as we looked out the window at cows grazing on the grass, their cow bells softly ringing…a memorable experience. 😊
Ah yes. Those beautiful cows and their bells. That’s an experience in itself! I wish I had enjoyed raclette in Europe, but at least I can do it at home. It’s so much fun.
We had to try this when we were in Switzerland a few years ago! Nothing better than gooey cheese!! Now I can make it at home :)
Nothing much better is right! Glad you got a chance to have it in Switzerland! How magical that must have been.
My first experience with raclette was in Albertville, France when I was working the Olympics. My husband and I stumbled into a little cafe for lunch and we ordered the plat du jour which happened to be raclette. No one spoke English and we didn’t speak French. We had no clue how to eat it so we put the cheese on the top to melt it and the meat in the drawers. Opps! When the waiter finally saw us he came running over yelling at us for a good 5 minutes. We were so embarrassed we left. We later learned the error of our ways and went on to eating a lot of raclette…just not in that restaurant. LOL
Thank you for the instructions and links so we can have this delicious dish at home.
Oh, the French! I can only imagine what that felt like. I remember when we tried to enter a restaurant before they opened! Quelles horreurs! And I’d been to France multiple times with my (French) mother, and should have known better! Which is the secret to traveling – be respectful. However, I wouldn’t have known what to do with a raclette grill, either! Funny story.
OMG! I’d raclette with you anytime! Still on my bucket list to have the real thing! But your house is I believe close enough! Hope you had a happy holiday and wishing you a wonderful new year!
It’s not quite like being in the Alps here, but you won’t care once you start! The cheese is to die for!!! Happy New Year to you and yours as well!
Now you made me miss Switzerland! this is my go do food when I visit my mom in Zurich. Love a good raclette, of course with fondue on the side too
Oh, sorry! We’ve been to Switzerland, but I never saw raclette because it was during the warm months! Fondue is pretty wonderful, too!
We just tried raclette for the first time this Christmas Eve!! It was so good – the kids had fun with it too. I need to try it with potatoes next time!!
Oh nice! Our kids love it, but then, they’re your age! I haven’t gotten the grand kids involved yet… What a perfect meal for Christmas Eve!
I saw your pics and I immediately said to myself “Ohhhh she did it, she’s got a raclette recipe!!!!!” Officially the BEST way the start the year! Yep, I completely agree, I could eat raclette every day of my life and be the happiest person on the planet. This looks absolutely AMAZING Mimi! Cornichons are my favorite raclette pairing, I’ll have to try everything else you’ve got here in this delicious spread yum!!! You’ve totally made my week with this gorgeous, informative, and delicious post!
Thanks, Shannon! I’d be a bit more chubby if I ate raclette every day, but goodness it would be fun to do! I don’t think there’s one way to raclette, except for the traditional way – potatoes, cheese, cornichons, pickled onions. But my way is way more fun!
Being French, we eat raclette every winter in my family, sometimes even in summer. That’s how much we love it 🤣 Thanks for this great post!
I would eat raclette in the summer! I would have no problem with that! My mother is French, but from Nancy, and she’d never heard of it. So I’m really happy we discovered it during our travels!
I’m from Lorraine – so not far from Nancy – and like I said it’s an institution in my family – how funny! Traveling is such a great way to discover food.
If you have time, make sure to check out my new food blog, thanks!
Isn’t Lorraine the province? Is it also a town? Probably what didn’t help is that my mother lived during the war, so she wasn’t traveling around looking for cheese!
Lorraine is the region where Nancy is. I meant I’m from the same region 😊
Yes I understand, different times!
That’s quite a raclette spread! I did a much more rustic “fireside” raclette party a few years back. Here’s a video. I always meant to post it on the blog and never did. GREG
Oh that’s great! Except for the poor guy holding the cheese in the fire!!! What a wonderful time raclett’ing creates though. It’s the best way to eat!
Those electric raclette makers were very popular in the eighties, and many people still use them for special occasions like Christmas. Anything with cheese is of course delicious :-)
I wish I’d known about them back then! Although before the internet, I couldn’t have gotten any cheese, so I guess it all worked out for the best!
I’ve known the word raclette since the 80ies, but never knew it was a specific cheese. This is good with most types of cheese. The other day we had a vacherin mont d’or that was baked and thus turned into cheese fondue. Think you would have enjoyed that 😉
Did I write about my Raclette Advent Calendar? There’s a cheesemaker in France who does cheese calendars for Advent–a different cheese for each day! I bought the raclette one, and a raclette machine, and my husband and I have been eating raclette for two months now! So delicious, and I love all the different toppings and sides you can serve with it. Weirdly, my kids aren’t fans, but more cheese for me!
Yes, you did! The funniest, oddest thing I’ve ever heard of, but bring it on! that’s my motto, more for me!
GAH! I love raclette! Lucky you that you even have a raclette gadget. It’s such a cozy dish!
It is indeed! And we STILL have more cheeeeese! So we’ll have to raclette at least 2 more times!!! Yay!
I love raclette! I used to be able to get it at my local market but it got a new cheese monger who doesn’t know anything outside of cheddar, feta, and mozzarella. A very interesting post and I love that you have a raclette makier – what fun that is!!! I’d love to be sitting at that table right now.
Noooooooo! That’s awful! It’s what I have to deal with where I live, but I’d be upset if I’d previously been able to get good cheese locally. I buy mine online. You are definitely welcome to sit at my table and raclette!